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1st International Conference on Rain Water Cistern Systems
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - June 1982

Section 1: History Of Cisterns

Page 9

Outlook on Ancient Cisterns in Anatolia, Turkey

Professor Unal Ozis
Ege University, Turkey


Evidence of human civilization in Anatolia goes back to millions of years: remains of civilization date back to the VII millennium B.C.; those of water works to the II millennium B.C. These ancient water works also included cisterns which played a certain role in water supply throughout the entire history of our country either as the only source or as an emergency water system.

Present day efforts in collecting rainfall precipitation directly into cisterns is somewhat similar to the harnessing of solar energy. Almost one third of the solar radiation reaching the earth's crust drives the hydrological cycle and thus creates renewable fresh water and water power potential. Although actually only one-fifth of the economically feasible hydroelectric potential is exploited, with regard to spatial distributions of the water power potential and to time projections of energy needs, man actually tried to directly exploit solar energy.

Similarly, the need for fresh water in areas of scarce surface water or groundwater resources may be met by direct collection of precipitation and storage in cisterns. Besides the opportunities lying in modern mathematical methods to deal with the hydrological process involved, the physical application of this mode of water supply is thousands of years old.

In this respect, Anatolia was the crossroads of civilizations and can perhaps be considered as an open air museum of ancient water works, showing the greatest richness and variety on earth.

During the seminar session concerning ancient hydraulic works of the XVII I.A.H.R. Congress, nine contributions dealing with historical water works in Anatolia were presented (I.A.H.R. 1977); the same subject was also part of the IXIII I.A.H.R. Congress and included new contributions (Ozis et al. 1979). The author presented a key paper at the opening of the sixth T.B.T.A.K. Science Congress (Ozis 1978), a special bi national symposium held in Istanbul, Turkey (Braunschweig 1979). It should be noted that the History of Hydraulic Engineering is offered as an elective course in the Civil Engineering Faculty of Ege University.

So, like all ancient water works in Anatolia, cisterns too deserve special interest. This paper is intended to provide a brief outlook on ancient cisterns in Anatolia.

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